Be Not Afraid, He is Risen
An Easter Reflection by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus
Alleluia, Alleluia “This is the Day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24). “Do not be Afraid, You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, He is not here, He has risen” (Mark 16:6). “Why do you search for the living among the Dead” (Luke24: 5 ) “He is not here, He has been raised, exactly as He had promised” (Matthew 28:6).
These words taken from the four gospels telling of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should have special meaning for us and fill us with hope and trust in God.
The first phrase, one that I especially love and keep deep in my heart, is “Do Not Be Afraid” simply put, if you have faith in God and the truly believe the promises of Jesus Christ, there is nothing in life that you need to be afraid of. By placing your trust in the will of God and believing that everything in life has a God given purpose, even the dissention that causes separation, bickering, and the power seeking of all those who profess to be followers of Christ.
In these days where division seems to be all around us in government and even faith communities we need to seek out what the root cause of it is. At the heart of most of the discourse is the desire for power, control and most of all, MONEY.
How foolish are we mere mortals, we allow our pride, greed and envy to cloud our eyes so that we forget the message proclaimed by Jesus through His resurrection. The message that with God, all things can be conquered, even death. We also seem to conveniently forget what Christ has taught us by His life, words and deeds. “Love one another as I have loved You”
Christ proved His love for us in the ultimate way, by willingly accepting death, not just any death, but the ignominious death of crucifixion. What greater love can a person have but to be willing to give up their own life for another.
Christ not only conquered death, he conquered our sins because by His overcoming death and with His resurrection he brought us forgiveness for our weaknesses and gained for us the promise of everlasting life.
Jesus came to us from Almighty God to be a “Rabbouni” teacher to us. He came to teach us the way to our own salvation and glory. The sad thing is, all too often, we are either not willing to truly hear the teachings of Christ or if we do hear them we choose not to follow them because they are inconvenient for us.
All the proclamations of Halleluiah, all the prayers, all the ceremonial trappings and fancy vestments are for naught if we do not follow them through with actions. If we do not assist the poor and needy, speak out against injustice and discrimination and share our gifts with those who are less fortunate. We need to affirm, as Mary Magdalene did when she proclaimed “Rabbouni” that Jesus was the teacher and we learned His lessons and follow them.
Jesus was, is still, and always will be the head of the church. He is still directing those who believe through the Holy Spirit, “the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the son. With the Father and the son, is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.” (Nicene Creed)
He speaks to each and every one of us who desire to know His truth and seek it out. He does not just speak to the hierarchy but to all who, through Baptism, have been called to “priesthood” not just those who have been consecrated as “Presbyters”.
Each and every person who has been born again in Baptism need to open their own hearts and minds to listen for the voice of God speaking within us and judge how what we are feeling and hearing complies with what Christ taught us in not only His words but by His actions.
We need to acknowledge Christ by seeking the truth as found in His teachings. We need to act in our daily lives in the manner that Jesus instructed us.
“Why do you search for the living (Jesus) among the dead? “He has been raised, exactly as He promised”
Jesus is alive; he is alive in the hearts and souls of all those who have been reborn through Baptism and who faithfully live according to His instructions. Christ is alive in every person who partakes of the “living Bread” he gave us in the Eucharist.
He gave himself to us, died for us and rose from the dead to conquer forever death from sin. Jesus taught us the way in order for us to know how to carry on His work here on earth while he and the Father watch over us.
On this Easter day, we need to believe and accept God’s will as taught by Christ in words, deed and actions and emulate them in our life.
On this glorious day when we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Let each of us who believe in Him and accept the call to “Come Follow Me” (Luke 18:22) work together to bring all who believe in the message and teachings of Christ together. Each and every one of us needs to make a concerted effort to repair the breaches that have torn us apart into separate factions, usually over some man made regulations that were instituted for the purpose of gaining control, power or political gain and which have nothing to do with God‘s will.
There is only one God. There was only one Jesus Christ. Christ, though His Apostles established one church, one faith.
It was not until that church, for political gain under Constantine, began to selectively pick and choose the teaching that fit their agenda and objectives that separation began and culminated when one Bishop decided that He, and only He was infallible and those who were supposed to be his equals were now subservient to him.
Every Baptized Christian is called to be God’s servants, His disciples.
All of us are called to live our faith and the teachings of Christ in our thoughts, words, and actions and not just by giving lip service.
We need to not only talk the talk but we need to Walk the walk.
Those of us who have been called to be shepherds and presbyters of His flock need find ways to work together with one voice just as Jesus spoke with one voice.
We need to stop the name calling and jockeying for power and financial gain and come together in unity with one message, the message that Christ claimed was the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind, soul and body and the second is like unto it, Love your neighbor as you love yourself”
By living that way when we proclaim, “Alleluia, Alleluia, This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be Glad, Jesus Christ has risen, Jesus is alive. Alleluia, Alleluia.” on Easter Sunday morning we are saying that Jesus lives today in each of us and we are attempting to live in accord with His teachings every day.
Let us pray; “Give praise to the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Alleluia, Alleluia. Send down Your spirit of love upon us and through your goodness make us of one mind who you have bless with the Paschal Sacrament. All glory honor and praise be yours, now and forever. AMEN.